The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has a list of coffee makers the association officially approves. At the time of writing, there 12 current models the SCA approved (and three past models).
These coffee makers afford precise control over all brewing parameters, and several models are programmable. They won’t, however, brew the perfect cup of coffee on their own. The right parameters must be used. Here’s how to brew great coffee with the SCA’s certified coffee makers.
Start with Fresh Coffee
First and foremost, you’ll want to use freshly roasted coffee anytime you’re brewing with one of these coffee makers. These models are excellent at bringing out nuanced flavors of coffees, but they’re only able to do so if those nuanced flavors are still in the coffee beans. Stale coffee, coffee that’s more than a few weeks old, has lost a lot of its flavor, and no coffee maker will be able to bring those flavors back.
Use Filtered Water
You’ll also want to use filtered water every time you’re brewing with these coffee makers. Brewed coffee is 98% water, and using water that's run through a filter will clean up the taste, allowing you to actually pick out more flavors!
Step 1: Measure Out the Coffee and Water
Once you have coffee and water, begin by measuring out the right amount of coffee and water. We recommend using 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of coffee for every 250 grams (8 ounces) of water. Too much coffee or too little water, and the resulting brew will be over-extracted. Too little coffee or too much water, and the brewed coffee will be under-extracted.
Step 2: Set the Water Temperature
Next, set the water temperature you’d like to brew at. Being able to precisely control the water temperature is one of the benefits of these SCA-approved models. Not only are you able to determine what temperature you want to brew at, but the coffee makers are insulated so the water will stay at that temperature throughout the brewing process. In contrast, most French presses and manual pour-overs aren’t insulated, and heat is lost as the coffee brews.
Coffee should be brewed between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Since heat won’t be lost during the brewing process, you can pick any temperature within this range. Try a few different temperatures, and see if you can taste a difference in how the brewed coffee turns out.
Step 3: Grind the Coffee
You should grind coffee beans fresh each time you brew a pot of coffee. Grinding releases flavor compounds in coffee by breaking up the beans. Thus, grinding right before brewing minimizes how much flavor is lost and maximizes how many compounds are extracted during the brewing process.
The best grind for your coffee maker will depend on what model you have. In general, a medium grind will work well. Use a slightly finer medium find if your brewer has a cone-shaped filter, and a slightly coarser medium grind if your model has a flat-bottom filter.
Step 4: Let the Grounds Bloom
Once your filter, grounds and water are in the coffee maker it’s time to begin the actual brewing process. First, determine how long you want the grounds to bloom (pre-infuse) for.
Freshly roasted coffee should be allowed to bloom for 30 to 40 seconds before the brewing process continues. Dampening the grounds and letting them sit for a half-minute gives the carbon dioxide that’s still in them a chance to escape so it doesn’t sour the brewed coffee.
How the bloom is set varies from model to model. On some coffee makers, you have to manually control the flow of water. On others, you enter this information into the coffee maker’s program.
Step 4: Wait for Coffee to Brew
At this point, all that’s left to do is let the coffee brew. Wait for a few minutes, and you’ll have a pot of delicious coffee to enjoy.
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